INEEL assists in international effort to increase nuclear plant safety

September 13, 2004

Engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, are promoting nuclear reactor safety worldwide. One tool these engineers are using in their effort is a computerized training program that could help prevent an accident like Chernobyl.

The training module is a customization of RELAP5-3D that focuses on the safety needs of many countries, such as Russia, Slovakia and Lithuania. "We've participated with many countries in Central and Eastern Europe to provide them with training that has contributed significantly to the growth of safety in their nuclear reactors," said Mike Modro of the INEEL. "We've shared our training, and now they are establishing independent safety thinking at the power plants in those countries."

RELAP5-3D is a computer code developed at the INEEL to create computer models of water-cooled nuclear reactors. Simulating emergencies a reactor might experience, RELAP5-3D is used for the analysis of accidents in water-cooled nuclear power plants and related systems. The code can be applied to a full range of postulated reactor accidents and can assess safety needs, even before the reactor is built.

The five-DVD set contains the audio and visual portions of a 10-part, 78-session slide presentation of RELAP5-3D training materials. These materials describe the code models, input and applications, and include sample problems and example accident simulations. The recordings were developed as part of the Integrated Training and Accident Analysis System developed for the Kursk 1 Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), an RBMK-1000 reactor, which is the same design as the reactor at Chernobyl.

A unique aspect of the training DVD is the Russian translation. Paul Bayless, an engineer at the INEEL, spent two weeks in July 2003 at the IAEA in Vienna recording the training. He said, "One of the more challenging aspects of making the recordings was not having any students to interact with; it was just me and a Slovak cameraman who spoke very little English." In November 2003, the INEEL's Jim Fisher recorded additional materials specific to the Kursk 1 plant during a training class conducted for the plant engineering staff in Kurchatov, Russian Federation. The Russian translation is by Olga Poliakova from the Voronezh NPP, Russian Federation.

The INEEL plans to use the DVDs as part of its RELAP5-3D training courses. Using the DVDs and the Internet, small numbers of students at different locations can receive RELAP5-3D training without the expense of holding a large training class at a single location. Operating on a personal computer, the DVDs allow students to select which parts of the training they would like to work on at any particular time. The individual presentations are assigned proficiency levels (beginner, intermediate, or advanced) based on the user's familiarity with the code. Recommended sequences of presentations are also included for specific subject areas or code user proficiencies.
Anyone interested in obtaining RELAP5-3D training can contact Gary Johnsen at the INEEL at 208-526-9854 or by e-mail at

The INEEL is a science-based, multiprogram national laboratory dedicated to advancing the U.S. Department of Energy's strategic goals in the areas of environment, energy, science and national security. It is the home of science and engineering solutions and is operated for the DOE by Bechtel BWXT Idaho, LLC.

DOE/Idaho National Laboratory

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